What do you think FICP members want most in terms of education at FICP conferences?
Meeting professionals are all hungry for information regarding the business of meetings.

The buzz elsewhere in our office is always about product, underwriting, ratings, and service. Very few people in my office even know what DMC, PAX, or RFP are. So as meeting planners, we all want to know what is new in conference planning.

What are the trends coming in and what are the trends going out? Are there new tools that can improve our meetings? Any tools that would make our jobs easier? How do I show my value to a bunch of actuaries? FICP members want to know the answers to these kinds of questions.

Can you share some highlights of the FICP Education Forum, set for June 15 to 17?
It’s a great recipe really. First you place it in an absolutely knock-down, gorgeous property, The Grand Del Mar in San Diego. Then you throw in some perfect weather (75 and sunny every stinkin’ day). Then you add the right blend of planners and hospitality partners.

The frosting, always the best part, is the education that explores exactly those questions listed above. And throw in a few keynote speakers that we need to preview for our own meetings. Maybe even celebrity sightings! And the cherry on top? The networking opportunities with your peers in the exact same industry.

Based on your own experience and observations, what is your outlook on meetings in 2011?
Meetings have come back for most of us. Planners and hospitality partners are still incredibly cautious with room blocks, attrition, cancellation clauses, etc. That’s not going to change.

I believe we have put perception issues aside and that the message about people gathering together for the good of the company will remain positive in 2011.

Based on your networking with fellow FICP members, what’s the biggest challenge meeting professionals are facing now?
Lack of resources. Many of the meetings that were canceled are coming back, but maybe not always the staff. We are all feeling the pain of being asked to continually cut budgets but still deliver sensational results.

What is one great piece of advice you’ve received in your meeting planning career?
Never let the client see you run. Never let the client see you cry. And never, never, never give up. (I believe that’s a Winston Churchill quote.)